Obama, McCain pledge to change ‘bad habits of Washington’

November 18th, 2008 - 10:15 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 18 (IANS) Despite being bitter rivals during the hard-fought campaign, US president-elect Barack Obama and John McCain have pledged to work side by side, saying Americans are looking for leaders who will come together and “change the bad habits of Washington.”The two men, who clashed over economic and foreign policy as presidential candidates, hoped to work together on challenges like the financial crisis, creating a new energy economy and protecting the country’s security, they said Monday after their first meeting since the election.

“At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time,” a joint statement said.

“It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family,” they said.

Meeting after a long hard and bitter campaign, Obama and McCain laughed and joked as they sat together against a backdrop of American flags at Obama’s presidential transition headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. They were joined by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Obama’s new chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

During the campaign McCain, a former Vietnam War prisoner, sharply criticised Obama for his lack of foreign policy experience, tax-raising economic policies and association with a former 1960s radical. Obama, in turn, accused McCain of planning to advance the policies of the unpopular President George W. Bush.

The meeting came as Obama is trying to fill out his cabinet with the most capable people and show he can reach across party lines. But, according to both McCain and Obama advisers, they were not expected to talk about any possible cabinet position for McCain.

Shortly before the meeting got under way, Obama told reporters he and McCain were going to “have a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country.” He also said he planned to thank McCain for his service to the country.

Asked whether he would help Obama with his administration, McCain responded: “Obviously.”

In Obama’s first television interview since the election, he told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that the global economic crisis provides an opening for the two parties to come together.

“You actually have a consensus among conservative, Republican-leaning economists and liberal, left-leaning economists. And the consensus is this: that we have to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving again, that we’re going to have to spend money now to stimulate the economy,” Obama said on the programme Sunday.

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